As the hot, summer days turn into cool, fall nights, most of us are preparing our home heating systems for cooler weather that typically accompanies the fall and winter months.
With the drop in temperatures comes a spike in residential structure fires, which require our area volunteer firefighters to respond at all hours of the day and night.
Firefighters in Meigs County and the surrounding counties are some of the most dedicated individuals I have ever met. The service, sacrifice and dedication they show to their departments and the citizens of our communities should be commended.
As a group, the members of the Meigs County Firefighter’s Association continually train so they can be as efficient as possible when emergencies occur. The members of our county fire departments also spend time at area schools teaching children about fire safety in an effort to keep families safe.
During the week of Oct. 9-16, many of our area firefighters will be conducting public education as part of National Fire Prevention Week 2016 activities. The theme for Fire Prevention Week 2016 is, “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.” The theme for this year goes hand in hand with the hope residents have smoke detectors that work, are not older than eight to 10 years old and are properly maintained.
Approximately 3,500 people die every year in residential house fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. A total of 117 fire fatalities were reported in Ohio during 2015. Of those fire deaths, 38 percent occurred in homes where smoke alarms were not present. In 21 percent of those deaths, smoke alarms were present but did not properly activate.
Cooking fires and those starting by heating equipment continue to lead the list of how structure fires originate. However, the risk of dying in reported home structure fires is cut in half in homes that have properly working smoke detectors.
The Meigs County Firefighter’s Association asks the public to do the following to ensure your smoke detectors are in good working condition and ensure your family’s safety in the event of a structure fire:
- Place a smoke detector on every level of the home, including the basement and on the inside and outside of all sleeping areas.
- Check alarms monthly by pushing the “test” button.
- Change batteries at least once a year or each time you change your clock (spring forward, fall back).
- The life span of a smoke detector is eight to 10 years, and the entire alarm should be replaced during this time.
- Keep the smoke alarms clean. Vacuum or dust your alarms according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Teach children what to do if the alarm sounds.
- Develop and practice your home fire escape plan to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go in the event of a fire.
If anyone has questions about their home smoke detectors, we encourage you to contact your local fire department. The members of the Meigs County Firefighter’s Association would like to say “thank you” for your continued support.
Derek Miller is president of the Meigs County Firefighter’s Association and a Pomeroy Fire Department firefighter.